Alex Adkisson

To say Alex Adkisson didn’t like school as a child would be an understatement. His dislike was so intense that if he was in the car with his parents, he wouldn’t even look at the school as they drove by it.

“I can remember despising it so much, even in kindergarten,” Adkisson says. “I’d just count down the seconds until I could go home.”

The biggest reason was that learning disabilities made school especially difficult. “I was always behind in reading. I was behind in math. The core academics, I would always get pulled out,” he explains.

After failing algebra in eighth grade and then again in the ninth, Adkisson was pretty fed up. He even considered dropping out of school.

It wasn’t until he took a class in geometry and construction that a lightbulb went off.

The class was taught by Scott Burke and Tom Moore at Loveland (Colo.) High School. After seeing their presentation, Adkisson thought, “If I have to take math, that’s how I’m gonna take math.”

Adkisson saw immediate improvement in his math grades, earning a C in the first semester and a B the second. Adkisson says it was the first time he was confident in a school setting.

That confidence also led to an attitude change. The following year, he took Algebra II and trigonometry at the same time. He took calculus his senior year.

After graduating, Adkisson continued his education at Colorado State University. It took him five years and he faced challenges, but he succeeded, earning a degree in civil engineering.

Today, Adkisson is back in the classroom, teaching geometry and construction as well as a program called AMPED (Algebra I in Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship and Design) at Green Mountain High in Lakewood, Colo.

“We run a full manufacturing business with the students,” Adkisson says. “We’re dealing with real products. And through that, we are highlighting the Algebra I curriculum.”

The program has led to an increase in pass rates in Algebra I and improvement in standardized test scores. The class was even featured on “NBC Nightly News.”

Adkisson’s journey from hating math to teaching has been a surprising one. Even he doesn’t seem to believe it.

“I always say that if I was to tell that age version of me that I was going to become a teacher, I would have kicked you as high as I could.”

View the NBC news segment on his school’s AMPED program at: https://nbcnews.to/2B3tF4C.